Diner Dash and the Angry Black Women
Over at Cerise (the gaming magazine for women) I have a review of Wedding Dash, a spin-off of Diner Dash, one of my favorite games. I’m not a huge gamer, though I have played them since I was a kid. I even still have a Nintendo 64 around here somewhere. Though I love console games, I mostly just play the simple ones you can find online, like Diner Dash, when I don’t have the time or energy to fire up my DVD-ROM games like Quidditch World Cup and Grand Theft Auto.
And yes, I play GTA San Andreas because I really love stealing cars, running people over, shooting random passers by and blowing things up with the tank. I’m a stereotype, so sue me.
My review of Wedding Dash focuses on gender issues in the game, which I don’t have with Diner Dash. Though DD has its own weird issues — not enough to make me really angry, mind you, but enough that they ping me every time I play.
Diner Dash is a flash-based puzzle game where you play Flo, a restaurant owner. In order to succeed in business, she must keep her diner running smoothly by seating guests and serving them well. There are several different types of customers, and each poses their own challenge. The default customer is a white woman who eats and loses patience at an average rate. All of the other customers can basically be measured against them. Other types include Senior Citizens (old white men) who are very patient but eat slow and hold everything up, Bookworms, who are just like the seniors but are less tolerant of noise around them, Families with crying babies, and impatient, fast-eating Businessmen (who, after Diner Dash 1, start yakking away on cell phones and pissing off everyone around them). And then there are the Businesswomen.
Yes, that’s them. These are the only black people in the game (unless you count the jazz piano player who sometimes shows up in later versions). And though the game text identifies them as Businesswomen, I have always called them the Angry Black Women. The ABWs are similar to the Businessmen in that they are impatient but also eat very fast. In the first DD, they were the fastest eaters and the most impatient of all the customer types. I dreaded seeing them in the line because I knew they wouldn’t wait long and, if you didn’t get to them right away, their little hearts would go away very quickly. As with all of the customers, once you get down to two hearts, they stop smiling and start scowling. If they get really angry they will bare teeth. It’s not a pretty sight.
When playing the first game I found it slightly funny and slightly annoying that the worst customers to deal with were the ABWs. But then in DD 2 they gave the Businessmen cell phones, making them even worse than the ABWs. Yes, they are impatient and eat really fast, throwing off my timing (even more than the women) but since they talk on cell phones, they can disturb the other diners, resulting in a lot of hassle in seating them. Bastards.
Still, those black women in suits are pretty darn impatient and angry. I also think they don’t tip very well.
When I first started playing Wedding Dash I wondered if this trend would continue. In WD, you’re running a wedding reception and have to seat the married couple’s guests. Luckily, it seems that some thought went into race when they designed this game. With each reception, the couples change. Sometimes they are both white, sometimes both black, and sometimes the couples are mixed. I believe there may be a few Latina brides as well. The guests are, again, mostly white, but there are three PoC in there. This time, the black woman is very patient, but she is the slowest eater, which, again, throws off my timing. She also looks a bit like Condi Rice, which is disturbing… Ah well, can’t win them all.
The thing I find most funny about the changing race of the couple is that there are some wedding guests labeled as family members who, at each reception, are white, even when neither the bride or groom are. I suppose it would be a bit of a programming hassle to make Aunt Ethyl (the blonde woman with glasses) and Uncle Ernie a different race in each reception. But still, it’s funny.
Though there aren’t any major race issues in Wedding Dash, the gender stuff is pretty awful, in my opinion. Roll on over to Cerise if you’re interested in checking it out.